Working and canvassing for current New York State Senator Zellnor Myrie three summers ago opened my eyes to the very real problem of non- rent stabilized homes in New York City. As I knocked on the doors of Crown Heights NYCHA building residents, I had the opportunity to speak with them and understand the ongoing issues they’ve had in the community.
As real estate developers come into lower-income neighborhoods like Crown Heights and build new apartments and commercial properties, existing residents’s rents increase significantly. Many of New York’s residential buildings aren’t rent-stabilized or rent-controlled which means landlords can increase the rent to whatever they like, wherever they like.
The difference between rent- stabilization and rent- control is outlined in an article by apartmentguide.com. Author Sage Singleton writes that “ Rent control means a tenant's monthly rate is pretty much frozen and can't be increased by the landlord at the end of the lease.” She defines rent stabilization as “...rent payments [that] increase by a small percentage each year” ( Singleton). The reason I emphasize rent stabilization over rent control is because rent control criteria is extremely specific and in order to receive it, “ The apartment building [has to be] constructed before 1947,
[it] has been occupied by the same family since 1947, and rent-controlled apartments can only be passed down to family members” (apartmentguide.com). This generational advantage seldom benefits minority people due to historical hindrances that prevented people of color from living in certain areas.
Rent controlled apartments are rare and benefit more privileged individuals and rent-stabilized apartments are becoming harder to find. This isn’t just a New York issue but a nationwide issue as well that is state-regulated. For people with a fixed income who have lived in their neighborhoods their whole lives, the steep increase in their rent is detrimental to their way of life. The cost of living in most cities does not equal the minimum wage amount many residents are earning. It is unrealistic to think that residents, especially natives, can afford their increasing rent when they’re not earning livable wages. Affordable housing for all should be a natural right and we need more legislators and policy makers to prioritize this issue and stop the rapid misplacement of native residents from their homes.
“ Currently, four states and Washington, D.C., have some form of rent control in place (California, New York, New Jersey, Maryland), 37 states prohibit rent control and nine states allow rent control but have no cities that implement it” (apartmenetguide.com).
Rent control freezes rent payments so they can’t increase and relies on a generational criteria and rent stabilization only allows rent payments to increase by a small percentage each year (apartmenetguide.com)
Rent control does not benefit the poor because it has to be passed down through family and economical ties.
Rent stabilization should be universal but currently only four states and Washington, D.C implement it and even then it's rare.
Gentrification contributes to the increase in rent and the misplacement of residents
Non rent-stabilized housing is detrimental to minority communities and low-income families.